Milkshake singer Kelis, 43 had an unexpected experience when she visited Singapore recently. Last Saturday she posted a video on Instagram showing her hair being touched by two women in a coffee shop.
See the Instagram post here – Kelis
One of the women asked in Mandarin if the braids were permed hair, to which the second woman answered: “Probably.”
A man off-screen remarked: “Very straight hair.”
Kelis then turned to touch the second woman’s hair, as the woman gave her a thumbs-up.
The first woman touched Kelis’ braids again, saying: “So long.”
Kelis’ companion, who was filming the encounter and was not seen in the video, said: “Just embrace it.”
Kelis replied sarcastically: “Oh, I like to be touched.”
She captioned the video: “I don’t even know what to say here.”
Social media users commended the singer for being patient with the situation and some said that they will not let strangers touch their hair.
“You handled this well. I just hate when ppl (sic) touch my hair. This ain’t no petting zoo,” said one netizen.
“Your patience is evolved,” said another person who added, “my instinct is to always pop the hand” as if dealing with a mischievous child.
Some users pointed out that it was uncommon for Singaporeans to “go around feeling the hair of others”. They said that judging from the accents, the women could be from China.
Kelis Rogers-Mora, also known as Kelis performed on the first night of the Mandala Weekender 2022 during the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix race weekend from Sept 30 to Oct 2.
Kelis’ Instagram post garnered more than 3,100 comments. Media company The Shade Room reposted the video and it garnered another 11,900 comments.
One top comment, acknowledged by Kelis, read: “I’m glad you grabbed her hair but clearly, they didn’t understand how ridiculous it is to touch a stranger.”
Some African people also shared similar experiences of their own in Asia, putting the women’s behaviour down to a “lack of self-awareness” and cultural differences around personal space.
Others, though, were not convinced: “They knew what they were doing. Look at her response when Kelis touched her hair, she didn’t like it.”
Kelis had her own critics where another camp felt that she should have set clear boundaries on the spot.
Kelis then took to the comments section to explain that she felt the women were genuine in their admiration. She had also held back partly because she was in a foreign country.
“First, I was caught off guard,” she wrote. “Second, they were enamoured, as they should be. I don’t like being touched and if we were in the [United] States or Europe, my reaction would have been different.